Two new, nonstop flights from Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co. (NASDAQ: ALGT) mean Indianapolis International Airport will have more nonstops than ever before. Indianapolis Airport Authority Executive Director Mario Rodriguez says the service to Charleston, South Carolina and Sarasota, Florida is an outgrowth of a $40 million investment announced in August by the low-cost carrier. Both flights are new to the market.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Rodriguez says the nonstop connectivity -- which now totals 51 routes -- and its increasing number of international flight options make IND stand out among its peers. "I don't think there's a need for anybody to drive to Cincinnati or Chicago to catch a flight anymore," Rodriguez says. "The cost of a roundtrip ticket is very well-controlled here. The cost of parking is incredibly low" and he adds "our ability to service our clients is much, much higher than it's ever been."

In 2016, a record 8.5 million passengers moved through the airport and Rodriguez expects 2017 to be "a banner year" and one that will exceed the previous high mark of passengers. "2018 is trending in the same direction," Rodriguez says. "It shows the strength of the city and the region and the state. It shows that economically, we're doing fantastic, and it shows that we're servicing out customers' needs."

Rodriguez expects the additional flights to continue to stir up competition among carriers. The "budget-conscious" Allegiant, he adds, is part of a variety of offerings at IND designed to serve all travelers. "What Allegiant is doing is it's changing the playing field." Rodriguez says travelers to Charleston and Sarasota who would have driven to the southern destinations will now be able to fly there.